The Cat’s Pyjamas: Exploring the Legacy of this Expression

Over time, the phrase “The Cat’s Pyjamas” has evolved from its origins in the 1920s to become a well-known expression denoting excellence and style. Initially coined in the urban east-coast cities of the USA during the flapper era, this phrase was part of a trend where new and wacky modes of expression were created to denote excellence. Other animal-related expressions like “the bee’s knees,” “the cat’s pyjamas” stood out and has remained in regular use.

The Cat's Pyjamas


Fascinatingly, the term “cat” in its heyday of the 1920s referred to a stylish young woman among flappers, evolving to signify someone with panache. By the mid-1920s, phrases like ‘the cat’s eyebrows/pyjamas’ gained popularity, denoting not just a playful nod to felines but a symbol of unparalleled style and excellence.

Furthermore, various iterations of this phrase emerged, such as ‘the cat’s whiskers,’ signifying both literal and figurative excellence. ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’ proved so voguish that it inspired many names in the 1920s, spanning dances, stage productions, musical compositions, films, and even a line of plush undergarments.

In contemporary usage, while the essence of the phrase remains true, it has seamlessly integrated into everyday vocabulary as a descriptor for extraordinary phenomena or individuals. The evolution of this expression underscores language’s capacity to adapt across generations, preserving its original charm.

In our modern lexicon, we frequently draw upon age-old expressions. One such gem is ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas,’ originating from the dazzling era of the 1920s and embraced by flappers during the Roaring Twenties. This idiom signifies something or someone of exceptional quality or superiority. This narrative delves into the origins of this phrase and its cultural evolution and offers practical suggestions for its incorporation into contemporary speech.

History (The Cat’s Pyjamas):

The term ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’ originated from the slang of the period when people would say things like ‘cat’s whiskers‘. It became popular among young women known as flappers because they wore short skirts and bobbed their hair. They also smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol, which was quite scandalous at the time. These women embraced the new fashion trends and wanted to express themselves through clothing and behaviour.


Today, the phrase ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’ is still used to describe something or someone that is exceptional. For example, if you are talking about a great restaurant, you might say it is ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’. Or if you meet someone very talented, you could call them ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’. You can even use it to compliment yourself! If you feel confident after getting dressed up, you could say, ‘I look pretty good tonight; I am The Cat’s Pyjamas!’

Variations (The Cat’s Pyjamas):

There are several variations of the phrase ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’. Some examples include ‘The Bee’s Knees’, ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’, and ‘The Tits’. Each one conveys a similar meaning but uses different words to do so. So, depending on your style and preference, you may choose to use one variation over another.

Overall, ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’ is a timeless expression that remains relevant today. Whether you want to impress others with your knowledge of vintage phrases or spice up your vocabulary, incorporating this expression into your daily conversations will make you stand out.